Caldwell, Vita Reach Milestones

Caldwell

Rockford, Illinois-based The Caldwell Group Inc. helped Vita Inclinata Technologies Inc. celebrate deployment of its 100th product unit.

Caldwell manufactures the spreader beam component of the propulsion (fan) driven suspended load system (Vita Load Navigator) for its Broomfield, Colorado partner.

The remote-controlled product allows crane operation crews to precisely (to one degree) control and orient loads without relying extensively on guylines or being in the critical path of the load. The system dynamically adjusts to load sizes, crane movement, and wind conditions, allowing high-precision lifts even in the most challenging environments.

The load navigator is available in five versions in 20t (7 ft. and 11 ft.) and 40t (7 ft, 11 ft., and 15 ft.) capacities. In each instance, the centerpiece is Caldwell’s Dura-Mod modular spreader beam, a versatile, lightweight alternative to fixed and multiple-point below-the-hook solutions.

Delivery of the 100th system chimes with Caldwell’s ongoing 70th anniversary celebrations; the company has grown into one of the largest manufacturers of below-the-hook lifting devices in North America. Founded in 1954 by inventor and tinkerer Leslie Caldwell, who designed, fabricated, and sold special lifting slings, it has expanded the product line and, today, is a reputable manufacturer and distributor of custom lifting solutions, worldwide.

During the early days of Vita Inclinata, co-founder and chief technology officer, Derek Sikora, recognized Caldwell’s solution-oriented mindset, which convinced him that a synergy was possible. The efficient and safe lifting of loads with cranes has always been a challenge for the industry, which Vita and Caldwell are now jointly solving.

“Several years ago, Derek reached out and gave us the background story about Vita and we were captivated. This is a cool product, there’s a need for it, and it’s fun to work on it. It’s been great to be a part of this journey. We started collaborating on conceptual designs and the rest is history,” said Darrin Noe, director of sales at Caldwell.

Dan Mongan, senior sales engineer at Caldwell, added: “The beams are perfect for integration into such an innovative solution. Each spreader system consists of a pair of end units and drop links, and two upper and lower shackles to make the shortest possible configuration. From there it is a simple case of combining intermediate spreader sections to achieve the required span.”

The load navigator system offers direct user-controlled positioning using a wireless control pendant and features a position hold function, that keeps the load stable in a pre-set orientation, despite wind or slewing impacts on the load. Vita Inclinata reports up to a 20-50% increase in productivity, depending upon load parameters.

During the development phase of the product, Preston FitzRandolph, aerospace engineer II at Vita, had the opportunity to go on an East Coast demo tour with Sikora, where he experienced firsthand how the operators were trying to use the system and its limitations. At that time, there were strict operating requirements that needed to be followed, and deviation would lead to lackluster performance. It became evident that the software control algorithm needed to be adaptable to a wide range of lifting team preferences, load sizes, rigging options, system configurations, and environmental conditions.

FitzRandolph said: “I remember when Derek gave me the requirements for the agnostic controller. The main prerequisite was that the system needed to perform regardless of the load dimension, wind conditions, and rigging. However, we couldn’t test it at the time because we didn’t have a spider crane. So, we spent a lot of time at crane yards, trying out different iterations of the pendant until we got it right.”

The collaboration between these two organizations has resulted in a highly efficient lifting technology that guarantees the safety and precision of lifting operations, and its success can be attributed to the complementing expertise and ingenious spirit of Caldwell and Vita.

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